Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Online Extra: Political Notes:
SF Dem Party snubs
Olague in D5 supervisor race


District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague did not receive the San Francisco Democratic Party's endorsement in her election bid; none of her opponents got enough votes to secure the endorsement either. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)
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San Francisco's Democratic Party flexed its political muscles last week, making endorsements in the fall contests for odd-numbered supervisor districts and seats on the local community college and school boards.

It snubbed bi District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague in her bid to be elected to a full term. And gay District 7 supervisor candidate Joel Engardio also came up short.

The Democratic County Central Committee, which runs the local party, last Wednesday, August 15 voted on its picks for local candidates and propositions on the November 6 ballot.

The party's endorsed candidates are featured on slate cards sent to voters and can tap party members to assist with their get-out-the-vote operations. Still considered a powerful boost for a campaign, the party's backing no longer automatically translates into a win come Election Night.

In another sign of the rough campaign season ahead of her, Olague was the lone incumbent who failed to secure the party's endorsement. She was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to fill the vacancy created when Ross Mirkarimi resigned to become San Francisco sheriff.

(Lee subsequently suspended Mirkarimi after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from an altercation with his wife. The city's Ethics Commission voted last week to uphold his suspension, and the matter now goes to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote.)

An ally at times of the more moderate mayor, Olague is also considered a left-leaning supervisor. Yet she has upset progressives with some of her votes and policy stances since joining the board. Those conflicting ties played out in her inability to win the local Democratic Party's endorsement.

Olague, formerly president of the city's Planning Commission, has attracted a number of high-profile opponents who are seeking her seat centered in the Haight and Western Addition. The one consolation for the untested political candidate is that none of her opponents this fall were able to secure the DCCC's backing in the race.

City College Board of Trustees President John Rizzo , who serves as state Senator Leland Yee 's (D-San Francisco) proxy on the DCCC, also failed to secure the panel's support. The two other frontrunners in the race – Julian Davis, president of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, and London Breed , executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex – also were snubbed.

The party committee also overlooked the four other candidates in the race: Andrew Resignato, director of the San Francisco Immunization Coalition; Thea Selby , founding member and current president of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association; Hope Johnson , the former chair of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force; and local attorney Daniel Everett.

While it was the only contested election that the DCCC failed to make an endorsement in, Olague wasn't the only out candidate unable to secure the panel's endorsement. Gay journalist Engardio, seeking the open District 7 supervisor seat, also came up short.

The party committee gave a first place endorsement to Port Commissioner Francis "F.X. " Crowley and a second place endorsement to school board president Norman Yee. (Under the city's ranked-choice voting system, voters can select up to three supervisor candidates to vote for in ranked order.)

The other candidates snubbed by the DCCC in the race for the west of Twin Peaks seat being vacated by termed out Supervisor Sean Elsbernd were Board of Appeals President Mike Garcia; professional geographer Andrew Bley; landscape architect Glenn Rogers; Robert "Bob" Squeri, the owner of a building maintenance company; housing advocate Lynn Gavin ; and Julian Lagos , who ran against Elsbernd in 2008.

Openly gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos , who is running unopposed, won the DCCC's backing, as did District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, who also failed to attract an opponent this year.

The other two incumbent supervisors, board president David Chiu (D3) and Eric Mar (D1) both have the party's backing in their races. Chiu has three challengers – Marc Bruno , Joseph Butler, and Wilma Pang – but is seen as favored to win.

Mar, on the other hand, is facing a strong opponent in David E. Lee, executive director of the Chinese American Voter Education Committee. Sherman D'Silva , a store manager who ran in 2008, is again on the ballot.

Coincidentally, all four of the male supervisors are also members of the DCCC. Olague is not.

In the contest for four seats on the community college board, gay attorney Rafael Mandelman, who is also a DCCC member, secured the party's backing in the race. So did the three incumbents up for re-election: Natalie Berg , Chris Jackson, and Steve Ngo.

In the school board race, where no out LGBT candidates filed to run, all three of the current members running for another term received endorsements: Sandra Fewer, Rachel Norton, and Jill Wynns . Newcomer Matt Haney rounded out the slate.

The city's two BART board members, District 7 director Lynette Sweet and gay District 9 director Tom Radulovich, both received DCCC endorsements.


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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail

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